REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Our Army is adopting new technology all the time, and is now training with the generally new concept of using lasers to attack threats in the sky.
"This is the first of its kind," said lead engineer Christy Reddy. "A proof of concept risk reduction vehicle, so the first time we've had a mobile weapon system on a maneuverable vehicle."
The Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser (MEHEL) is a technology integration and experimentation effort with a solid state laser system. The goal is to enable warfighters to gain hands-on experience operating a high-energy laser system.
The laser is a concentrated beam of light that can engage smaller threats from far away, all while on a moving, armored Stryker vehicle.
"This particular platform is used to train soldiers," Reddy said. "So we've taken it to multiple exercises across the country and in Europe, so active-duty military get on the platform, see how it works and give us feedback."
Soldiers use real Xbox controllers to manipulate the lasers. This makes the system more relatable, and generally easier to use by younger warfighters.
While one soldier engages a threat, another soldier uses the secondary optic, which works like a camera, to identify the next threat. These threats are typically small, unmanned aerial vehicles, like drones.
"This is something that can engage a threat, then move on to the next one very rapidly," Reddy said.
This is the Army's first high energy laser on a combat platform.